chapter  2
25 Pages

Love and Knowledge

ByAlan Jacobs

In Love's Knowledge and elsewhere, Martha Nussbaum uses the fiction of Proust, Henry James, Charles Dickens, and others to buttress her claim that emotion should not be set in opposition to reason—that, in fact, a truly rational person will experience certain emotions as the consequence of proper understanding. The relation of love and knowledge is also the theme of Plato's Symposium, but that work, too, is a debate about the form of love that produces knowledge. Let us return to Nussbaum's claim that love is productive of knowledge. Any object of knowledge can be perceived and cognized as a thing. But a subject as such cannot be perceived and studied as a thing, for as a subject it cannot, while remaining a subject, become voiceless, and, consequently, cognition of it can only be dialogic. Love, too, would be a passion that had to be mastered before knowledge could be achieved.